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Nonna Maria and the Case of the Lost Treasure

Lorenzo Carcaterra takes us back to Ischia to solve crimes alongside the utterly charming Nonna Maria

I am a sucker for cozy mysteries that feature armchair travel or senior sleuths. This book has both! Nonna Maria is a very well-connected woman who has lived on the Italian island of Ischia her whole life and has an extensive network of family, friends, and acquaintances. Little do the bad guys know what they are up against! There are two crimes in this story. An assassin is out to settle a score, and then a rumored treasure may be found at long last. 

The setting and world-building are excellent. I haven't visited Ischia yet, but these books make me want to pack my bags. In addition to the vividly depicted sun-drenched beauty of the island, Carcaterra delves into the history, traditions, food, and culture of the place, from medieval castles to smugglers' caves to pizza, wine, and coffee. Ischia comes alive in these pages and is a beloved character in itself. 

Nonna Maria is a well-developed, warm, and wonderful character. She has quirks and quick wits, will only eat/drink in her own kitchen, and she's always a few steps ahead of the bad guys. There are a number of people who would do anything for her, and the depths of Nonna Maria's connections are fun to find out about, as they are occasionally surprising and often charming. Her techniques are different from the typical cozy mystery sleuth, and she is clever and fun to spend time with. Carcaterra's writing has a unique style and cadence, but this is a quick read, a bit edgy, and rather delightful. The Dedication and Author's Note are as heartwarming as the story, and this works as a standalone. If you're looking for a fresh take on the cozy mystery genre, you'll want to check out this series! 

You may recognize NYT bestselling author Lorenzo Carcaterra from some of his other work, including Sleepers, which was adapted for film.

Thank you to Random House Publishing Ballentine for the free book! 

This time, no tea steep. Nonna Maria drinks coffee or wine, period. So I have an espresso shot here, though mine doesn't hold a candle to Nonna Maria's who serves hers with pieces of chocolate in the cup! 


As Nonna Maria's longtime friend and sometimes colleague, Captain Murino of the Ischian caribineri never wanted to see harm brought to the doorstep of everyone's favorite espresso-brewing, counsel-giving amateur sleuth. But when you live a long life, you're bound to make a few enemies. And when those enemies come calling, you have to rely on friends. Faced with an assassin seeking revenge for a decades-old grudge, Captain Murino has no choice but to turn to Maria, who must use all her neighborly resources, clever faculties, and web of connections to save him from his perilous predicament.

On the other side of the island, a second mystery begins to unfold from the deathbed of another of Maria's old friends,  when he hands his granddaughter a yellowed map and tells her of a treasure to be found in one of Ischia's secret caverns, known as the Magician's Cave. There are traps and pits. There will be others with sinister motives who will do all they can to make the treasure their own. But this map is a guide—the only gift he has to give. When the granddaughter needs help cracking the code, she turns to her grandfather's most trusted Nonna Maria.

From battling foes in medieval castles to exploring the notorious caverns where smugglers hid their goods, Nonna Maria and her friends—some old, some new—embark on their most swashbuckling adventure yet.

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